Just returned from Viking Imperial Jewels of China cruise. We booked our own air with Delta. A Viking local tour guide met us at the airport in Shanghai and the transfer to the Ritz Carlton was flawless. At the hotel we met our guide Jane who was with us for the entire trip. I cannot say enough about her. I called her our security blanket. She managed to get us on early domestic flights which resulted in 3 on time flights. China's domestic airlines are notoriously delayed. We also arrived at all of the crowded venues (pandas, terracotta warriors and Great Wall) ahead of the crowds. We booked the extra nights in Shanghai and were glad we did. Gave us an opportunity to get over jetlag and to see more of this remarkable city. We flew to Wuhan where we boarded the Viking Emerald which was built in 2010 not 2011 for Century cruises. It is chartered by Viking. Chinese shipbuilding is not up to Western standards. The air conditioning cooled all of the rooms, but did not dehumidify which is important. The climate along the Yangtse is subtropical with lots of heat and humidity. The interior decoration of the ship was very attractive. Carpet in some areas is wearing thin. Fall is the best time to cruise. Shipboard staff were excellent and well trained in customer service. Food was good, not great. Pretty much what we expected based on previous Viking cruises in Europe. I would suggest cruisers get the extra alcohol package unless they enjoy the really cheap free wine provided free with meals. This also includes soft drinks used at non meal times. I realize this is a casual cruise, but gym shorts and tee shirts at dinner was too casual for our group of ten. The scenery in the 3 Gorges is spectacular, but be aware this is a humid foggy area with an overlay of the air pollution seen throughout China. Visiblility was only fair except for one day when it was a little better. The river is very busy with commercial traffic. Many river boats carrying raw materials for the massive construction boom we saw everywhere we went along with coal for the many power plants located along the river. The children at the school sponsored by Viking were delightful. We could barely see the 3 Gorges dam because of limited visibility. The Lesser 3 Gorges tour on a smaller boat is very good. We saw the pandas in Chongquing as they were waking up. They are wonderful. The terracotta warriors in Xian are spectacular. The highlight of Bejing was the trip to the Great Wall. We had time to walk as much of the wall as we wanted. Again, visibility was fair at best.
During the trip, we toured a silk factory and jade factory, Very interesting, but mainly intended to entice us to purchase their wares. Thankfully, no hard sell.
Overall, the trip met our expectations. One peeve was that at all non-ship meals the drink choice was beer, water or soda. Several in our group would have preferred a glass of wine which was either not available or at extra cost.